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In this blog post by Mama and The Word, I will show you how meal planning for your family has helped take the stress and overwhelm out of mealtimes as a busy Christian woman, so you no longer feel overwhelmed, stressed, or disorganized. While also freeing up more time, feeling more organized, reducing food waste, and lowering food spending too. So make sure to read to the end of this post, and don’t forget to grab my free guide The Beginners Guide To Family Meal Planning.

Meal Planning has quite simply changed my life for the better. Stupid I know but small changes can add up to a big result.

Life has become more and more hectic in general. For myself with the twins, older siblings, working from home, homeschooling on top of all the other daily jobs that need to be done around the house. 

As well as the increase in food costs, everyone is in the house more, boredom, increased eating, and lack of certain food items at the grocery store.

All this drove me to the decision that enough was enough and that I had to just give it a go!

Hi I’m Gem

I am a busy Christain wife & mama. I have been married for the last 15 years to my best friend. We have four wonderfully individual children together, 15, 13, and 3 (x2).

We have lived in two different countries, traveled halfway around the world with our children, and back again. Experiencing some unique cultures, languages, and people. I found God along the way too.

It’s now my mission to share that journey with you and help you in your journey with God, your family, and your kitchen too.

By giving you the tools and resources to help you grow closer to the Lord, understand your family more, and develop your skills in the kitchen.

Each of us has a god-given gift or talent that he created us with for His purpose. And if this is your first time visiting Mama & The Word, put a heart in the comment box below so I can officially welcome you to the community. 

The First Step To Family Meal Planning

After the initial thought of What shall I make?? had passed. I decided that the easiest way was to simply list each family member’s favorite dishes as my starting point.

So I began to set my new plan into action. I took out a piece of paper, grab my pen, and began writing everyone’s family favorites. I also tried to avoid any unhealthy foods and opt for more healthy recipes that the whole family could enjoy together.

Remember you are never going to please everyone, you are not a cafe or a fast food joint. This is your kitchen, your food, your weekly meals.

I love lists and I find that they keep me organized and focused. When planning my weekly meals I decided to concentrate on using fresh ingredients, seasonal produce that could be used to make healthy meals that wouldn’t break the bank or require lots of different ingredients that I would seldom use.

So I decided to make a simple table with the days of the week and list down my ideas.

fresh vegetables for meal planning

Questions To Ask Yourself

When you begin to create your weekly meal plans I recommend asking a few important questions which we will look at in more detail below.

  • What is your food budget?
  • How long do you want to cook for?
  • How many are you cooking for?
  • What are your time constraints?
  • What type of meals does your family enjoy the most?
  • Do you want to batch cook?
  • What diets or allergies do you need to consider?

What Is Your Food Budget

I think that looking at how much I was spending and then seeing how much I was wasting was a big eye-opener for me. As well as for my family finances and budget. I was literally throwing money in the bin by not planning my family’s meal.

Also, I found that I would run low on certain items. Meaning more time and money being wasted with trips to the shop for items I had forgotten or had run out of.

This also creates extra stress which as mamas we just don’t need. 

With a busy schedule, I knew I needed to find easy ways to make mealtime simpler and also save time during an already busy week.

A great way you can do this exercise easily is by using your old receipts from your last month’s worth of food shopping.

By adding up all your spending you can review exactly what you are actually spending on your grocery shopping each week.

You may not even realize how much extra money you are spending on your weekly grocery budget from impulse buys or lack of planning.

Once you have your figures you can start to implement your new weekly meal plan and then review your savings! So ask yourself the following questions?

Savings: How much did you save by planning your meals? 

Time: How much time did you save by planning your meals?

Planning: How did you feel knowing what you were going to make this week?

It can be quite a shock but very rewarding. After your rent or mortgage, your food spending is one of the next highest spending amounts of your monthly budget.

Read More Here: How To Budget Your Family Food Shop As A Busy Mama

How Long Do You Want To Cook?

Be realistic with this question. If you only want to cook meals in 30 minutes or less then that is what you should aim for!

If you have more time or plan your day accordingly then you can allocate more time if you want to. Perhaps the weekend is when you would like to spend more time in the kitchen.

Everyone is different and that is ok if it works for you. Meals should be enjoyed whatever the time of day.

How Many Are You Cooking For In Your Family?

The number of people that you cater to on a daily basis will obviously impact how much you spend on your food budget. As well as the amount of food you require for each recipe for each week.

It’s easy to divide a recipe or to double it up. Don’t be scared to do it. I always cook extra as my tribe eats like horses. If there are leftovers then they can be saved for lunch or frozen as an easy meal or two.

You can even try meal prepping things like vegetables or make-up meals for the coming week to help you save additional time during the week. Or you can give batch cooking a go.

This means that you can make extra or you can double the amount of the same recipe. You can then freeze these meals once cooled and they will then be ready for another day when time is short.

Seeing as it takes the same amount of time to make one dish as it does to make double the amount. This can help you save time in the long run.

Freezer meals are always great to have as a backup for those days when work schedules are overly busy or you have activities, and clubs, or if the family is feeling under the weather.

dinner table laid with green plates and cutlery as well as glasses of juice

What Are Your Time Constraints When Family Meal Planning?

Don’t be scared by time but be honest. For days when you know that your time is minimal put easy meals in place to help you.

Don’t make your day more complicated or stressful by picking a complicated dish.

Slow cookers or instant pots are great for these types of days. There are brilliant one-pot dishes that can be made.

Freeze batch-cooked meals if you have enough leftovers. When you plan your weekly menu remember to list what other events you may want to consider.

Weekly sports, clubs, extra classes, or special events can then be planned around accordingly for these days.

This will ease your stress and help you stay in control and focused. I found that knowing what I was doing each day when I began my morning helped me to stay on track.

It even gave me more time as I became more structured and organized with my task. These dishes can still make a delicious meal.

What Type Of Meals Does Your Family Enjoy?

I don’t know about you but the worst thing for me as a mummy is when someone moans about what they have to eat.

You can spend a lot of time and effort making food each day for people to turn around and not be happy with the end product.

Or you run yourself ragged making 5 different meals for 5 different people. This is not sustainable for your sanity or your budget.

Get the family involved with your menu. Ask them what they enjoy eating.

Have theme nights or family favorites. From taco Tuesdays to wonderful one-pot Wednesdays, or thrifty Thursdays.

Whatever your family enjoys the most to keep everyone full up and smiling at the dinner table. Don’t be afraid to try different recipes or something completely new!

Bowls of prepped healthy food

Do You Want To Batch Cook?

Ask yourself do you have the time and energy to batch cook? Preparing some meals in advance can help you on days when time is tight?

Making double the amount so half can be frozen for a different day or the upcoming week can save you time, energy & money too. But if this doesn’t work for you then don’t worry.

You can buy something prepared or have a simple and easy meal that you can whizz up quickly when required.

Read More Here: The Benefits Of Batch Cooking As A Busy Mama
batch cooked food in food containers

Do You Have Any Special Diets To Consider When Family Meal Planning?

We are trying to eat healthier as my husband has been diagnosed as a diabetic. My son has ADHD so we try to be careful with his food as diet can play a big part in managing his condition.

Having a healthier lifestyle, especially where our food is concerned then can help these health conditions in a positive way.

Our twin daughters have allergies to some foods so we always have to be conscious of ingredients and check the package a lot more than before.

This is always in my mind when I am planning our weekly food menu. I have found that it is much easier to plan in a block rather than each day as it comes.

Look at your family and yourself, are there any health or dietary requirements that you need to plan for when it comes to mealtimes.

Or do you want to improve your health, lose weight or bulk up? By planning your meals you will be more successful at achieving these goals.

Read more about food allergies and intolerances here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/food-intolerance/

Raw chicken with fresh vegetables, nuts, pulses and eggs

The Benefits Of Family Meal Planning

Why didn’t I try this sooner Is my main thought? How much money and food have I been wasting as well as my time and energy.

Having a plan and knowing what is happening has enabled me to cut back on food waste, save money on my food budget. Whilst still being able to eat well. But mainly it has freed up my time, lowered my stress levels, and reduced the feeling of being overwhelmed. 

I am not constantly thinking about what will I make tonight? and do I have enough food for this dish? Or will I need to dash to the shop this evening in a fraught flurry for some extra chicken or a packet of rice!

I am calmer and more relaxed. I am also more willing to try different foods as I know I can have time when I need it for new or more complicated recipes.

But mostly I am more focused and conscious about what I buy and if I need it?

I would love to know if you have tried out some of these ideas and if you found anything that helped you. Do you have anything that you think should be added to the list!

Drop me a note and let me know below in the comments as I love connecting with you all.

Love Gem xoxo

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